The old student sighed. What should he wear? ‘Please treat the interview as you would any other formal, professional interview’ it said on the invitation. A suit and tie? He would ask his brother.
‘Academics don’t wear suits. You’d embarrass them if you wore one,’ his brother said. ‘Neat, casual would be best.’
The first male applicant he saw when he walked into the waiting room was a young man, whom he would later come to know as Nikos, dressed in a suit, white shirt, tie and polished, black shoes. The old student sat beside him and flicked a non-existent piece of lint off his jeans. Nikos grinned.
A few minutes later, the old student had to take a grip on his lower jaw, as another applicant came in and sat beside the suit. This young man, whose name he would not remember, seemed oblivious to their contrasting outfits. He wore runners, socks that ended below his ankles, shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. A pair of sunglasses, with bright-green frames, was perched on top of his head.
The old student smiled. What had he been worried about? He was always stressed about something. There he was, though, sitting talking to eleven strangers and it all seemed natural. Later they would all be wishing each other well. Not like that party he’d been to a few months ago. Most of the guests had known each other—they were all old friends of the host—whereas he had only known the host. All he could think of that night was how to escape. One guest had wandered past and said, ‘Don’t worry, someone will come and talk to you soon’, as he moved away and joined his friends.
The interviewees parted on good terms with each other; maybe one or two would be reunited as student writing mentors, but the only name the old student remembered was Nikos’s—the man who wore a suit.
Author: The Postie and the Priest: A look at Father Bob Maguire through his letterbox